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Trump Supporters: Accomplices or Victims?

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Trump is infamous for spewing lies and his supporters are known for believing his claims. As noted in previous essays, one of the many things that is striking about supporters professing belief in Trump’s claims is that they accept claims that are logically inconsistent (even contradictory in some cases). Two claims are inconsistent when they both cannot be true but they both could be false. This is different from two claims being contradictory: if one claims contradicts another, one must be true and the other false. The pandemic provides a horrific example of the ability of Trump supporters to profess belief in inconsistent claims.  Many Trump supporters claim to believe that the virus is a hoax, that it is no worse than the flu, that it is a Chinese bioweapon, that Trump has been doing a great job with the pandemic and that Trump should get credit for the vaccine.   When Bob Woodward released tapes proving that Trump acknowledged the danger of the virus in February, many Trump supporters accepted Trump’s claim that he wanted to play down the virus to avoid a panic. His supporters defended him, claiming that great leaders have and should lie to prevent panic in the face of terrible danger. If Trump was right to lie to play down the deadly danger of the virus, then this is inconsistent with the claim that it is like the flu and also inconsistent with the claim that it is a hoax. If he was right to lie because of the danger, then it is not like the flu nor is it a hoax. But if it is like the flu or a hoax, then he would not need to lie about the danger. One way to explain Trump supporters professing inconsistent beliefs is that some of them are accomplices. Another is that they are victims. I will begin with the accomplice explanation. It is possible, even likely, that some of Trump’s supporters are aware when he is lying and perhaps even recognize when they make inconsistent claims. In this case, the inconsistency can easily be explained: they are accomplices to. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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